DEMON'S FEVER T.F. Walsh

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CHAPTER 1

Strong winds swept through the city street, throwing Cary Stone's loose ponytail over her shoulder. Cars were in gridlock, bumper to bumper, on the two-lane road. With only three hours of sleep, Cary wasn't in the mood for traffic or the ocean of pedestrians brushing past her on the sidewalk. Another pleasant morning in downtown Detroit.

She grabbed a folded paper from her pocket and opened it, staring at what she wrote yesterday. Shadows from the lofty buildings blocked out the sun, and the breeze tore at the corner of her paper.

Retail Sales Associate.

Glamour Puss Clothing Co.

Drummer Street.

Ask for Jen.

9.15am sharp!

Wow them.

The ad didn't ask for a resume, but said to convince the owner why you were the ideal applicant. Cary smiled. Dressed in knee-length boots, skinny jeans, and leather jacket, her style screamed casual street gear more than glamour. But she'd convince the owner that hard work was her forte. And if needed, she could do security, too.

Cary merged into the wave of bodies heading in the same direction. Shoulders nudged hers. She never understood why anyone rushed to work at the last minute. Leave home early; get organized.

Though she couldn't talk. Jobless. Two months behind on rent. And with no money, she contemplated breaking into the bakery store near her apartment after hours. The aromas that came out of that place had her salivating in her sleep. This was what her life had become—dreaming about food she couldn't afford.

Living on the streets was becoming too close to a reality. That alone quickened her pace.

Farther ahead, the store came into view. The word Glamour sparkled in diamonds while Puss was scrawled across the back of a white, arching cat. Mannequins in furry lingerie littered the front window. Okay, this wasn't the clothing store Cary had imagined.

Mental note: Next time research the store online.

A young girl emerged from the store, dolled in pumps, a mini skirt, and a cream pea coat. She juggled several shopping bags.

Cary glanced at her jeans, the worn lines at her knees, and the worn tips of her boots. Her belly sunk and seeds of doubt whirred through in her mind. One look at her and security would escort her from the premises, but walking away wasn't her style.

She unbuttoned her jacket and patted the creases from her black T-shirt. She released her ponytail and fluffed her hair. The vibrant red color and waist length always captured attention and would detract from her outfit.

The traffic wasn't going anywhere in a hurry, so she wove amid the cars to cross the road. When she stepped onto the sidewalk, a gust of air collided into her. And with it came a familiar sulfur stink, coating her throat. Her gaze swept the streets, people, and even the cars. No sign of anyone drenched in a silver aura synonymous with a demon possession.

She coughed from the stink cloying her senses.

Bad timing.

She glanced at the shadowy street next to Glamour Puss. No sign of a demon, but they generally converged in alleys like rats on a cadaver. Why hadn't anyone told them how cliché that was?

Cary checked her cell—9:14 a.m.—and inhaled another lungful of sulfur. A part of her screamed to ignore the fiend. Damn, not like anyone thanked her for the countless demons she'd vanquished. Still, her legs refused to move. Destroy the vermin entering this world before they find out what you are. Her chest tightened as she stared at the glittery store that offered her a lifeline from her money woes.

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